News / Middle East

    Slow Progress in IAEA Probe May Complicate Iran Nuclear Talks

    FILE - The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran
    FILE - The reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran
    Reuters
    Signs that a U.N. watchdog investigation into suspected atomic bomb research by Iran is making little progress could further complicate broader diplomacy on ending the decade-old nuclear dispute that resumes in Vienna on Tuesday.

    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) indicated late on Monday, after a three-hour meeting with Iran, that more work was needed by the country in order to fully implement a series of nuclear transparency steps by a Thursday deadline.

    The IAEA also made clear that no agreement had yet been reached with Iran on what issues to tackle in the next phase of a cooperation pact aimed at allaying fears that Tehran may be seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability.

    The outcome is likely to disappoint Western diplomats, who want Iran to move much faster in addressing the IAEA's questions about alleged activities that could be relevant for any bid to build a nuclear missile. Iran denies any such work.

    "Everybody is fairly frustrated at the lack of progress," said one envoy who closely follows the Iran nuclear file.

    The meeting took place a day before Iran and six world powers were due to start a new round of negotiations, also in the Austrian capital, aimed at reaching a final settlement of the standoff over Tehran's nuclear ambitions by late July.

    Iran has offered to work with the IAEA in clarifying what the U.N. agency calls the possible military dimensions (PMD) of the country's nuclear program. But diplomats and experts say it would be difficult for Iran to admit to any past activity
    contradicting its denials of allegations of a bomb agenda.

    "Iran has real problems in addressing the PMD issues," said the Western diplomat, who is not from one of the six major powers negotiating with Iran - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia.

    There was no immediate comment from Tehran.

    Iran's talks with the IAEA and with the powers are closely linked as both focus on fears that Iran may be covertly seeking a nuclear weapons capability. Iran says its uranium enrichment program is a peaceful energy project only.

    Western diplomats say Iran must start engaging with the IAEA's long-stalled investigation and that this is central to the success of the broader negotiations.
     
    West and Iran far apart

    Under the cooperation agreement signed with the IAEA in November, Iran was to take seven practical measures by May 15 in a phased process to shed more light on its atomic activities.

    Diplomatic sources told Reuters last Friday that the IAEA was seeking further clarification from Iran about the most sensitive of those steps, concerning fast-acting detonators that can have both military and civilian applications.

    How Iran responds to questions about its development and need of this type of equipment is seen as an important test of its willingness to cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation.

    Iran says it has already implemented the seven steps - including access to two uranium sites - but the sources said the IAEA still wanted more information about so-called Explosive Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators.

    They said the IAEA also wanted to agree with Iran new measures to be taken after May 15, hoping these will address other sensitive issues linked to its nuclear bomb inquiry.

    However, after Monday's apparently inconclusive meeting, the two sides did not even say when they would meet again.

    Iran wants an end to sanctions that are badly hurting its oil-reliant economy. After years of a vitriolic and confrontational standoff with the West, the election last year of pragmatist Hassan Rouhani as Iran's president created a new atmosphere more conducive to settling disputes via diplomacy.

    But diplomats and experts say Iran and the West remain far apart on what a long-term deal to resolve the dispute and dispel fears of a new Middle East war would look like.
    "It's typical for negotiations to experience bumps, blocks and breakdowns," said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank.

    In the Iran-IAEA talks, "the Iranian negotiators have to be wary of appearing to be too cooperative, lest they be accused back home of giving in," Fitzpatrick said.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora